Friday, 20 November 2009


I was thinking of Angels the other day. I was part reminded of Della Francesca's St Michael. But this came about because I was thinking of Ed Ruscha's paintings, particular his relatively recent works with text superimposed onto mountain tops (Who incidentally has a retrospective at the Hayward gallery at the moment). At least Della Francesca and the image of St. Michael popped into my head at the time of thinking. Loosely connected as they are I think geometry is a major aspect of each artists work, a technical apotheosis, if i can call it that, in which their image making and thematic concern conjoin.

One artists work is the expression of mathematical sublimity the other of a pseudo 'reality' of advertising and political coercion. Francesca's is the world of faith as expressed through enlightenment and that of Ruscha's a dystopic, managed now.

Ed Ruscha ©. The Mountain. (1998)

Piero della Francesca. St. Michael (1469) The National Gallery

Well that in it self is not specific about Angels apart from St. Michael himself. I suppose I got thinking that angels exist as articles of faith because they are conduits of it. That is they're more tangible than a pure Omnipresence. Maybe that relates to their origins in antiquity. Greco-roman gods as we know were connected more to fate than morality. And fate is matter of circumstance albeit one that manifests itself in the troubles of men (though circumstance may lend from personal providence). The gods then are the expression of that epiphany like a celestial hologram which realises in temporal significance at a mans place, which he and god can concur in despotic despair. And of course the monotheists relinquish despair not from the roll of the dice but in faith and faith alone. I think I see in Ruscha's paintings a dialogue in which they try to objectify through manifestation. It's there on the painting lies the figures of angels.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


© Goscinny & Uderzo

He's turned 50 and this has to be still my favourite comic. Sure there are more serious comics than this but the chaotic word play, ebullient imagery, gentle mockery all without the slightest sense of whimsy and more to do with a sly ticklish chauvinism. Goscinny and Uderzo made comic art without the shame of it being a cartoon. And It's a shame there isn't more bande dessinee available in english. The rich versatility of Bande and its envious presence in continental culture is easy to see in any FNAC store or Hypermarche. Anglo-amercian comics may have more grit and intense subculture verve (although arguably Metal Hurlant was as much a precursor as the underground comics scene) but dessinee has an artistry and richness of its very own.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Claude Levi-Strauss 1908-2009

Claude Levi-Strauss, who died last week.

Structuralism, I was always told, was such a dry theory of things. A Technocratic idea of orderation. A logic to apply to all human societies, away of measuring all men through common principles. All societies have structures but to state that the very structure was the commonality between men would always be philosophical issue and consequently of interest to those outside the field of anthropology. This, maybe, was much to the chagrin of Levi-Strauss but much to the richer understanding of the complexities that we in habit for people like me, who read some of his works. But the credit that Thinkers should give to him was in the simplicity that he gave to such complexes. Logos, myth, magic and science, the real became that much realer imbued in creation like a phantasmic fabric that makes up the order around us. From that it doesn't take much to realise the poetry involved in the Analysts code is the very code itself and that difference between painting and maths maybe just a matter of percepting that code that unravels in chromatic plurality.

I was in my last year of college when I think I began to some what understand this. And somehow trying to get past the screen of words which was to be my final essay I came to a fruition that words and thought and logic where the consummation of order through there own internal magic. I think in my own way I began to understand the importance of what I read some years before and the ideas of Claude Levi-Strauss.

"The position of culture is always in the circumstantial initiation of political and temporal manifestations... Art is always compeled into a form of deliberative action or considered indifference. However, Art's paradox becomes its own search for the truth of human desire and suffering in the immediacy of reality. Culture's difficulty lies in its own ambigious function and meaning in proximity to temporal forces. (Post-modern) culture may wallow in political subterfuge but the desire for the real is not only a Baudrillardian fetishism bounded in the rhetoric of apathy and nihilism but the very compulsion of human conciousness. Realism's persistance is in Culture's conjunctive 'praxis', as the agency of performance and conduct which constrain social structure. Foster touches on the anthropological contention in mimetic ritual, what Girard's theory ascertains as the violence with which the origin of all things human is in the eradication (almagamation) of truth into mythic representation, the disturbance of reality. It is the proximity of violence which considers the real, yet its immediacy is the compulsion of all things too human in its incompleteness and trauma."


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